Mikey quietly sat down at Cabin 6’s table next to his older brother and Nick.
“Dude, where were you?” whispered Matt.
“Um, I just had to go to the bathroom,” Mikey lied.
“You do realize that if our whole cabin isn’t here on time, we have to do dishes at the end of dinner, right?”
Mikey looked down at the table in shame.
“Mikey! Glad you could make it!” Peter chimed. “Looks like we’re doing dishes tonight, man.”
Mikey let out a sad, distressed sigh.
“It’s all good, dude. Just means we get our turn out of the way first.” Peter had a commanding power of positivity in his words, like Mikey had heard many times in pastors and preachers at various churches he had been to.
The camp director called up the cabins by number and, slowly but surely, Cabin 6 was called. Jeremy and Matt led the way with Mikey trailing behind them.
“You excited for the rice pudding and bologna sandwiches they serve here, Mikey?” Matt taunted.
Mikey made a vomiting motion. “Eww!”
“Yeah, but instead of raisins in the rice pudding, they’re ants. You need protein, man,” Jeremy chimed.
Mikey’s stomach lurched. The hunger he felt was suddenly nonexistent. He watched his brother and Jeremy fill their dinner plates with chicken strips, and macaroni. Mikey took a spoonful of mash and a full cup of watered down iced tea back to the table.
“Not hungry, Mikey?” Peter asked.
Mikey shook his head, no. He took a meager bite of his mash and gulped down the iced tea. Mikey watched as Jason first lined up exactly five of each vegetable and five chicken strips and ate them meticulously. The other boys hungrily gnawed at the overcooked chicken strips and macaroni with sparing portions of cooked carrots, peas, and mashed potatoes. His stomach gurgled but thinking about ants in rice pudding put him off eating for the rest of their meal.
Matt watched his brother struggling and felt bad. He didn’t really want his kid brother to starve. He pocketed a couple of chicken nuggets for later when Mikey would start whining about being hungry.